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Even as airlines try to maximize their route networks and fly more planescloser to full than ever before, many travelers are still hoping old tricksaround "asking nicely for an upgrade" will work for them.
Earlier this year, longtime flight attendant Patricia Green wrote a post saying that "can I have an upgrade?" is both the single most frequently asked and annoying question for flight attendants due to their limited ability to help.
Another flight attendant with a commercial airline, 25-year-old Destanie Armstrong became the latest to speak up against such actions on social media platform TiKTok.
'Our airline considers it as stealing,' flight attendant explains in viral video
"We never allow that," Armstrong says in response to a question from one of her followers asking how often flight attendants switch someone over into first class. "If someone wants to wants to switch cabins or even get an upgrade, that's to be dealt with [by] the gate agent."
In her post with Simple Flying, Green had also said that any upgrades are finalized before the passenger boards the flight. Once in the plane, switches can sometimes occur if there's a problem with the seat but flight attendants do not have the authority to do it just to be nice.
"You can get in a lot of trouble for doing that, giving out upgrades," Armstrong explained. "Our airline considers it as stealing because the passenger didn't pay for the ticket or get the upgrade."
Armstrong also explained that, because anyone entitled to an upgrade would have received it before the flight boarded, first class seats are usually even more full than the rest of the cabin. As such, seats that may appear empty usually simply mean that the passenger assigned to its is running late or is in the bathroom.
Don't try to pull this on a plane (it won't work and will annoy the flight crew)
But despite all this, Armstrong said she still frequently sees all types of bad behavior on the part of the passengers — some will try to sneak into first class when they think the flight attendants are not looking while others try to give compliments or "flirt" with her with poorly-masked hopes of getting that upgrade.
"There have been multiple times that men have hit on me thinking that I'm going to move them to first class because they told me I was pretty," Armstrong said.
In reality, whether one gets an upgrade is almost always outside of the flight attendant's control because it depends on how full the plane is — even when there is free room, priority is always given to those who are willing to pay for the upgrade or those who have frequent flyer status that offers it to them in such situations.
That, however, doesn't stop some someone aboard every flight from trying their luck. According to Armstrong, another type of difficult traveler behavior comes from those who sit in the exit row seat (which, on many planes, also happens to be a premium economy seat) and then gripes about having to move when the flight attendant asks them to.